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Renting Rules and Tips for Tenants

Written by:
Liliana Alvarez
Macro Vector

With house prices soaring continually and a cost-of-living crisis that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon, more of us than ever before are turning towards rental properties. While you might assume that renting means all responsibilities are passed onto the landlord, however, there are actually many responsibilities and rights that tenants must be aware of to ensure a smooth tenancy.

Whether you're a first-time renter or someone who has moved multiple times, understanding your legal rights and responsibilities is crucial if you want to live a happy and uncomplicated life. With so many rogue landlords trying to take their tenants for all their worth, it’s never been more important to understand how to navigate your rental journey.

Tenant Rights and Responsibilities

Right to a Safe and Habitable Home: Your rented home must be safe and free from health hazards. Landlords are responsible for ensuring that the property's structure is in good repair and that all gas and electrical systems are safe and up to code.

Right to Know Your Landlord: It’s becoming increasingly common for landlords to exist as shadowy figures, but you have the legal right to know the identity of your landlord. Your landlord or letting agent must provide you with this information within 21 days of your request and this is something you might want to consider even if you’ve not had any problems yet.

Protection from Unfair Eviction and Unfair Rent: Otherwise known as “squatter’s rights” this dictates that you cannot be evicted without proper notice and a justified reason as defined by law. Additionally, your rent cannot be increased arbitrarily and must follow the terms set out in your tenancy agreement.

Tenant Responsibilities

Pay Rent on Time: This is perhaps your most fundamental responsibility. Failing to pay rent on time can lead to eviction and if you continually fail to pay on time, they might have the right to evict you with little warning.

Care for the Property: You must use the property responsibly. Damage that goes beyond normal wear and tear could mean you’ll lose your deposit or face additional charges. The safest bet is to treat the property as if you own it. You are living there, after all!

Respect Neighbors: Keeping noise to a reasonable level and disposing of rubbish correctly are important to ensure you live harmoniously with neighbours. Of course, if you have a reasonable dispute with your neighbours, however, you should always bring it up with the landlord before it spirals into a drama.

Knowing your rights and responsibilities can make the rental process run much smoother and give you the peace of mind you’ll need while living your life and potentially saving for a house of your own. As a final important note, however, always ensure that you read your tenancy agreement thoroughly before you sign it, as this document will detail all the specific terms you'll be expected to follow and not all agreements will be the same. It’s also wise to protect your personal belongings with home insurance, as this isn't typically covered by a landlord's insurance policy.

As ever, knowledge is power and staying informed and prepared will give you all the tools you need to enjoy your tenancy and strike back against your landlord if the relationship should ever turn sour.

By Liliana Alvarez

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